Dinner

You know it’s bad when you can’t eat dinner together. This so-called intimate gathering has dissolved into an obligatory settlement. The air between you two is so thick and uncomfortable you rather eat alone in a blistering bathroom. You used to dress up and take hours to get ready, putting on your favorite scent of cologne or perfume that they tasted each time they kissed your neck, approaching the tip of your dangling earlobe. It gave you goosebumps. Chills would run through your back and down your spine, igniting this passionate bliss. It left too quickly to grasp onto for longer than a cold second.

Both of you know it, though. You both walk into this proposed romantic establishment to sit across from each other and stare into each other’s aloof eyes. The hostess seats the both of you with more excitement then you can even fathom acquiring. Excitement is foreign. It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost like mutual self-torture. There is a shared yet pathetic realization this love has gone putrid. But this is dinner, and partners are supposed to be happy at dinner.

You will sit through it, as awkwardly uncomfortable as it may be. You observe how nice they look. Maybe even nicer than the first day you met them. But they still appear like a ghastly shadow of the person that once spooned you together months before. You sat together on this dull night while your lips remained untouched of any slight emotion. Conversations used to be about questions you asked yourself in your dangling train of private thoughts, wondering if anyone else ever asked the same nonsensical things. They did. They took these ideas and cuffed them ever so gently, leaking out words, sentences, and essays worth of thoughts that meshed so perfectly with yours. Those conversations have banished. Dinner is always served cold.

Words are just sounds. Sentences are just noises. Their voice is blurry and foreign. How did these exquisite evenings turn into nights filled with dense haze? Your mind won’t shut off. You could barely sit still in this uncomfortable cloud but not because you don’t care about them, but because you care more about everything else. It’s not that you became lost in someone else’s eyes or discovered endless flaws in the lovely exterior you were once obsessed with. They have trickled down your list of priorities and passions. Checking your email before bed suddenly becomes more important than kissing them goodnight. Everything has faded. Starving sounds better than dinner.

You will sit through another dinner, though. Maybe one, two, or even three more. You hope that this is just a phase, and every couple goes through this depressing turmoil. You believe that the spark will set off again and conversations will become meaningful. The wine will delight your palate soon. The food will nourish your utter body and soul. But you are waiting too long now. Things are not changing and dinner is still draining. The food sat out too long, and every morsel is decomposing right before your eyes. You wish you could go back and reheat the chill in the room, the chill on your plate, and the chill that lies between you. TC Mark

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